Implement jute law right away: economist
The government should immediately implement the law on the compulsory use of jute sacks to pack food items and agricultural produce in bids to revive demand for jute goods, a noted economist said yesterday.
“There will be huge domestic demand for jute goods if the country can implement the law properly,” said Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, chairman of Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation.
Some opportunists are creating obstacles to implementing the law, he said at a workshop of Golden Fibre Project at The Daily Star Centre, organised by Traidcraft Exchange, a UK-based charity organisation.
Demand for jute and jute goods will rise significantly as it is environment-friendly and bio-degradable, he added.
Ahmad urged jute farmers to form an association to place their demands with the government. “Jute growers should unite to get fair prices for the produce.”
In a bid to cushion the export-dependent industry against fluctuations in international trade, the government framed the mandatory jute packaging law in 2010, which was made official later in October 2013.
At present, only the Directorate General of Food uses jute sacks to pack its purchase of rice and wheat; but rice millers and traders, the main market players, are yet to comply with the rule, citing higher costs with the use of jute sacks compared to polypropylene or plastic bags.
At the workshop, Innovision Consulting Private Ltd presented a final evaluation report on the project jointly implemented by Traidcraft and Tarango, a non-government organisation, in four upazilas in Faridpur and Gopalganj between June 2009 and May 2014.
The project benefited 4,396 farmers and craft producers, said Sadruddin Imran Albaab-Ur-Rahman, chief executive of Innovision.
During the project period, each beneficiary's income increased significantly mainly due to improvements in yield, he said.
Each beneficiary farmer's average income from jute farming rose from Tk 1,082 in fiscal 2009 to Tk 14,239 in fiscal 2013, Rahman said.
Jute grading in terms of quality has contributed to a rise in farmers' incomes as they received better prices overall, he said.
The project was allocated 475,378 pounds from the Department for International Development, said Shahed Ferdous, country director of Traidcraft Exchange.
It was a well managed project as overhead costs, including staff costs, were below 20 percent of total project cost, he said.
Established in 1986, Traidcraft Exchange works to enable poor producers in Africa and Asia to grow their businesses, find markets, and engage effectively in trade.